2013 ICES Certification Exam

In early August, Melanie shut down the bakery, loaded up the car, and headed to Kentucky to take a rigorous 8-hour skills exam called the Certification Exam.  The exam is hosted by the International Cake Exploration Society (ICES) in an effort to encourage its members to “develop their talents in the sugar arts, acquire new sugar art skills, and strive for excellence in cake decorating.”  The candidates are vying for the prestigious titles of Certified Master Sugar Artist (CMSA) or Certified Sugar Artist, but the process doesn’t start when the clock starts…no, no…it starts at least 1 year prior to the exam!

Over a year ago, Melanie registered to take the exam in Kentucky, and over the last 8 months, she has been perfecting her “Plan” for the exam.  Each candidate has to carefully plan which skills they will perform during the exam, where the skills will be placed on the display pieces, etc.  It doesn’t sound very difficult, but don’t underestimate the trickery involved with choosing your 8 best skills and incorporating them into an aesthetic cake design.  There is a fine balance between showing your talent and going way overboard (and wasting time) too.

The candidates must write up their plan and submit it to the adjudicators for approval.  While the adjudicators are there to help the candidates, they can only do so much.  During the approval process, they help ensure the candidates are following all the rules so they are not disqualified and offer some advice where they can.  But they can not tell from a drawing and description if the work displayed will be up to CMSA standards or not have quite enough detail for certification to be awarded.  That, my friends, is up to the candidate.

So when August finally arrives, the candidates have practiced and thought the exam through until they can do their skills with their eyes closed (or at least, that’s the ideal situation).  They load their vehicles and head to the exam location, which moves each year.

Melanie, her husband Adam, and their 4-month-old baby Hailee drove the 12 hours to Lexington, KY and arrived one day prior to the exam.  These are the cakes Melanie created during the exam:

Mel's 3-tier Certification display Continue reading

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Chic Designer Print Cookies

I’ve been experimenting with combining edible prints with cookies lately. Here’s a sneak peak at some of my successful attempts. Warning: These cookies are a bit racy, and may give a new meaning to Wednesday (today) being “hump day.” *wink*

chic designer print bustier leopard pink polka dot blue polka dot bustier cookies photofrost

For these bustier cookies, I used blue polka dot, leopard print, and pink polka dot edible prints from my PhotoFrost printing system. The rest of the decorations were done with royal icing.

chic designer print bustier leopard pink polka dot blue polka dot bustier cookies photofrost

Stay tuned for more edible print cookies coming soon!

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The Big Cookie Reveal!

Last week, I posted this picture:

summer teacher vacation cookies margarita watermelon
And I told you the cookies were a surprise for someone very important in my life. Did you guess who that person was???

My mom!

Coincidentally, one of my Mom’s former students (she’s a 5th grade teacher in TX) was in Florida on vacation with her family. Her Mom saw my temporary Ph.D.-serts & Cakes website and called me. They wanted to bring some surprise cookies back to my Mom! How sweet is that?!

So I decided to do a “Summer Teacher” cookie mix.

summer teacher vacation cookies
She received chalk boards, pencils, watermelon, beach balls, sunglasses, cupcakes, and ice cream cones. When I think of “teacher on vacation,” that’s what comes to mind!

The best part was that Mom had NO CLUE! *insert evil laugh here* I love being sneaky like that.

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Day 4 – Ornament Cookies

These are some of my favorite cookies that I’ve included in the 12 Days of Cookies. They’re simple Christmas ornaments, but each one is different…and so easy to do!

christmas ornament cookies royal icing
christmas ornament cookies royal icingFor the blue one on the left: Flood the ornament with blue royal icing. Let that dry overnight, and then go back with white and 2 shades of blue royal icing and add the dots, curves, and lines.

For the Peace ornament: Flood a rectangle in the center with green royal icing. Then flood the top and bottom sections with white royal icing. To make the red polka dots, just add them to the white flooded icing while it’s still wet! Once the green dries, go back and write “peace.” Easy!

For the Joy ornament: Use the same technique as the Peace ornament, but drag a toothpick through the flooded icing to get that cool pattern. Then write “joy” after the red icing has dried.

christmas ornament cookies royal icing
For the blue ornament on the left: Again, flood the ornament with blue royal icing. After it dries overnight, go back with white royal icing and add all the details.

For the ornament on the far right: Flood the center portion red. Then, go back and flood sections white and green. Once all the flooded area has dried, just go back and add the details.

Need a more detailed tutorial, check out this one on Bake at 350.

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Day 2 – Florida Snowmen

With Day 2 of my 12 Days of Cookies, I thought I’d include some snowman cookies since it’s been so darn cold outside lately! Last night, we hit lows in the teens…in FLORIDA! Yikes!

So I was thinking…what does a “Florida Snowman” look like? This was what came to mind:

florida snowman bikini bathing suit
But let’s face it, THIS is what a real Florida Snowman looks like:

*This adorable cookie was created by Meaghan at The Decorated Cookie. She calls him Mr. Melty. Don’t you love that?! She’s awesome, and has a book out!

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12 Days of Cookies – Day 1

From now until Christmas, I’ll be posting a different decorated sugar cookie for your viewing pleasure. I’ll sprinkle a few cakes in too – because I can’t resist. We’ve done some pretty cool cakes in the last few weeks, and I can’t wait to show you!

christmas tree sugar cookie royal icing
Day 1 – Christmas Trees 3 Ways.

How do you decorate your tree? With lights, ornaments, garland? Do you use ornaments that have memories and special meaning to your family or do you color coordinate everything?

Is your tree up already or are you one of those who waits until Christmas Eve?

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Fall Cookie Bouquet Class at Ms Debbie’s Sugar Art!

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we had a Fall Cookie Bouquet class at the bakery. I posted about it here already, but now I’ll give you pictures I took during the class!


We started out by outlining our cookies. Traci had beautiful nails so she became the class’ official hand model!


Here’s Jerry concentrating on his cookie and pretending I’m not taking a photo. I don’t know how he decorates standing up…I forget that I’m standing and lose my balance. Seriously. The whole class was standing so I decided to stand, but I almost toppled over sideways! Does that happen to anyone else???



Then, I taught them how to thin down their icing to flood the cookies. There were 5 people in the class and 5 colors to thin down…perfect! Each person took care of a color. I love it when things work out like that!


Emily was the only person in class who hadn’t taken the Wilton Method classes at Michaels – but you couldn’t tell! She was awesome!


We lined all our cookies up and aimed a fain on them so they’d dry super fast!


After a little drying time, we added the final details. Don’t you love how Corinne marbelized the flood icing on her acorn?


And Anita’s turkey turned out super cute!


This is a close-up of the turkeys in process.


And the finished bouquet!

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